Consumer concerns regarding the pesticide contamination of commonly-consumed crops, like corn and wheat, have been voiced for decades. This, along with the rising issue of pesticide resistance of many common agricultural pests, have led scientists to develop genetically-altered crops that produce their own insecticides. These genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, come with their own unfortunate set of side effects, possibly contributing to more issues than previously existed.
What Are GMOs?
Genetically-modified organisms are materials (usually of plant origin) that have been altered to ward off pests and disease. While this sounds beneficial in theory, the health effects of GMOs remain unclear in the majority of the population. Some animal models, however, have shown disastrous effects from feeding GMO foods, with soybeans, corn, and wheat being the biggest culprits. Two of the health effects   that have been revealed in clinical studies include:
Immune System Health
For years, developers of modified crops have claimed that the pesticides in plants were harmless to the human body. It was said that pesticides were broken down into inert compounds as soon as they entered the stomach. With no large-scale, long-term studies being available to back up these assertions, very little can be said to fully guarantee their safety in the human food supply.
Findings presented by the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec revealed concerns over the long-term risks of consuming GMO grains, like wheat and corn. The study involved a small population of expectant mothers and their unborn children as well as non-pregnant women. Its aim was to test the amount of residual pesticides that could be found in the mothers' blood. Of the 69 women who participated in the study, the majority of mothers showed measurable amounts of pesticides in their bloodstreams. Even 80% of their fetal offspring showed noticeable serum levels of genetically-engineered pesticides. 
Gut Damage from GMO Foods
Gastrointestinal disorders have been rising within the past 50 years, with gluten, processed foods, and GMOs being the primary culprits driving this increase. Irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac disease, and chronic constipation are a few of the many intestinal disorders that are commonplace today. Glyphosate, an herbicide used in GM crops, has been shown to disturb intestinal microflora balance and promote the growth of harmful bacterial strains.  This may interfere with the immune system, increase infection rates, and also cause issues with mood and behavior. 
Digestive enzymes may also be reduced following consumption of GMO foods, leading to impaired digestion.  Studies also indicate that GMO crops, particularly those that contain glyphosate and Bt-toxin, damage microvilli in the intestinal tract similar to that seen in Celiac disease.  Research is unclear whether or not this could be contributing to the rise of Celiac disease diagnoses; however, it could be a main factor.
How to Avoid GMO Foods
The only way to avoid GMO foods is to choose organic whenever possible. By purchasing organic, you are voting with your pocketbook and creating a demand for more natural, non-GMO, non-pesticide foods. Don't be fooled by the all-natural label; these foods may contain all-natural ingredients, but they could be genetically modified. Only the USDA's organic certification label guarantees the absence of genetically-engineered ingredients.
Are you a non-GMO supporter? What do you do to avoid GMOs? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM